How to distinguish shirt fabrics?



Every shirt has its particular type of fabric, but how to distinguish it?

Cotton is one of the most common material among shirt fabrics, and most fabric names refer to a particular method of weaving technique. What’s weaving? Weaving is the art of realizing a tissue, obtained by the interlacing of differents threads called warps and wefts: vertical threads are called the warp, while the horizontal ones are the weft.

The weaving technique creates harmonies. Indeed, it is possible to compare the work of a designer of a weaving factory, to that of a music composer: as the musician combines diffefabric-threadsrent sounds in a music pasthreadssage to compose a certain harmony, the designer alike selects the textile threads of different colours, arranging them in longitudinal and diagonal ways to form a predetermined pattern.

Thus, fabric assumes different characteristics depending on the way the weft thread is woven with the warp thread. Fabrics mix different coloured threads: even a solid colour fabric, such as dark blue, may not be woven using only dark blue warp and weft threads. It is the presence of multiple colours which reveals particular shades of an apparently plain fabric under the light.

High quality shirts are made of fabrics with pre-dyed threads. Shirts that are manufactured with this type of fabrics are more lasting. The quality of fibers and threads of a particular shirt fabric is an objective fact, whereas its feel and touch depend on the finishing, a treatment which gives to a rough fabric the desired quality, when it just comes out from the framework. For example, the silky effect of Poplin, the softness of Batista, and the robustness of Oxford.

Here is a list of the main types of shirts cotton:


Voile: a very light and quality fabric, with fine, smooth texture and a plain appearance. Very exclusive and particularly suitable for the summer season.

Light weight fabric 


Batista: a very fine and breathable fabric, made of thin threads. It was once made only with linen threads, but nowadays it is mainly produced in cotton.

Medium/light weight fabric


Fil-a-fil: a light and fresh fabric, suitable for any season. Its particular characteristic is given by the use of different types of threads, as cotton and silk. Its name derives from French and it identifies the alternating use of white threads in the warp and weft. It is a coarse and durable fabric, nonetheless very fine and light.

Medium weight fabric


Poplin: this type of fabric is made of a larger number of thin warp, and thicker weft threads. Poplin is devided into single, semi-twisted or twisted poplin, according to the type of threads interlacing. It is soft and comfortable, and silky to the touch. It is produced in many varieties of colours, and it is traditionally used for business shirts.

Medium weight fabric


Piquet: fabric with small patterns in relief, often a honeycomb texture. Generally suitable for formal shirts in white colour, and sometimes used for collars and cuffs of classic dress shirts.

Medium/heavy weight fabric


Oxford: a rather coarse fabric, yet soft. It is obtained by weaving contrasting threads colours: only the threads running in one direction are dyed, while the others are left white. It gives a multicoloured interweaving effect and its typical basket weave appearance. Due to this peculiarity, Oxford fabric is less elegant than other types of fabrics, therefore more suitable for casual shirts. The Royal Oxford is a finer version of the traditional Oxford fabric. An Oxford plain shirt is more soft and silky to the touch, and can proudly stand besides a fine tailored suit and an expensive tie.

Medium weight fabric


Twill: this fabric has a characteristic diagonal texture, 45 degrees oriented, and it is an fascinating tissue for its particular shin effect. Twill shirts are very durable and resistant to wrinkles. The Herringbone Twill is a similar type of fabric, both have a distinctive diagonal structure, this second one due the name because of the similarity with the skelton of a herring fish. To obtain the typical herringbone effect, threads direction is reversed approximately every half centimeter thus creating a zigzag pattern.

Heavy fabric


Flannel: soft and warm fabric, basically used for casual shirts, mostly solid or plaid and tartan patterns.

Heavy fabric


Which are your favourite shirt fabrics to the touch, and with whom you feel most comfortable?